Speaker: Dr Simon Singh & Alan Henness
Title: Battling Bogus Medical Claims
The Nightingale Collaboration was established in 2011 to tackle misleading claims by alternative therapists. Its projects have highlighted false online advertising by homeopaths, craniosacral therapists and reflexologists. The speakers will explain how it is possible to protect the public by working with regulatory bodies to remove unjustified, and sometimes potentially dangerous, claims from the web.
Simon Singh is the author of books such as “Fermat’s Last Theorem” and “Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial”. He is a libel reform campaigner (after being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association) and helped establish the Nightingale Collaboration. Alan Henness is a director of the Nightingale Collaboration, with Maria MacLachlan, and has developed a series of tools and campaigns to combat unjustified claims by alternative therapists.
Speaker: Dr David Barrett
Title: The Church of Scientology – a Scientific or an Esoteric Religion?
The Church of Scientology claims to be based on scientific principles but actually bears a considerable resemblance to esoteric, Hermetic and Gnostic religious movements. David Barrett will explore these similarities, while also examining Dianetics as a form of psychotherapy, and looking into why people join and stay in “cults”, touching on the myth of “brainwashing”.
He will also look at the use of popular culture in new religions, and discuss assorted deceptions common to many esoteric religions, including the self-creation of the mythology of a guru – and just how big the Church of Scientology really is.
This illustrated talk ranges from psychology to science fiction to superman, with just a hint of magick...
Dr David V Barrett has worked in teaching, British and American government intelligence and journalism, and has been a freelance writer specialising in new religious movements and secret societies for 20 years. He gained his PhD in Sociology of Religion from the London School of Economics in 2009. His most recent book is A Brief Guide to Secret Religions (Constable & Robinson, 2011).
Speaker: Prof Amina Memon
Title: Making the best use of video identification parades and meeting the needs of vulnerable witnesses
Eyewitness identification decisions from 1,039 real lineups conducted in England in 2009-10 were analyzed. Identification procedures have undergone dramatic change in the United Kingdom over recent years. Video lineups are now standard procedure, in which each lineup member is seen sequentially. The whole lineup is seen twice before the witness can make a decision, and the witness can request additional viewings of the lineup. Consistent with prior field studies using live parades, the suspect identification rate was 39%, the filler identification rate was 26%, and the lineup rejection rate was 35%. Repeated viewing was strongly associated with increased filler identification rates, suggesting that witnesses who requested additional viewings were more willing to guess. Factors associated with lineup outcomes such as the age difference between the suspect and the witness, the type of crime committed, and delay will be briefly discussed. Finally, Prof Memon present proposed changes to the guidance on the conduct of identification parades funded by an ESRC funded knowledge transfer grant.
Prof Memon is currently Professor of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is a Fellow of both the British Psychological Society and the Association of Psychological Science. She is an Associate Editor of both “Applied Cognitive Psychology” and “The Psychologist”. Prof Memon’s main area of expertise is Applied Social and Cognitive Psychology and she has been conducting research in the Psychology and Law area for 25 years. Her research is international with collaborations in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, North America, Germany and Sweden. She has received numerous awards to support her research and has over 90 publications.
Speaker: Dr Susan Blackmore
Title: A 21st Century Séance
When Susan Blackmore attended her first séance back in 1971 she already knew something of the history of spiritualism: its beginnings with two young girls in New York State in 1848, its rapid spread across America and Europe, and the Victorian rage for private séances where a medium might be gagged and bound inside a curtained cabinet while astonished sitters in the blacked-out room awaited “physical phenomena” such as disembodied voices, wisps of ectoplasm from the medium’s orifices, or even materialised spirits. She never experienced any such inexplicable thrills! Indeed after Michael Faraday’s conclusive experiments in 1853, and countless subsequent exposures of fraud one might have expected the whole circus to disappear. But no – it is still with us. After a decade of avoiding the paranormal, curiosity has tempted her to accept an invitation to just such a séance in October 2011. She will report on what precautions she takes, what happens, and whether or not she witnesses the promised inexplicable physical phenomena.
Sue Blackmore is a psychologist and writer researching consciousness, memes, and anomalous experiences, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. She blogs for the Guardian and Psychology Today, and often appears on radio and television. Her book “The Meme Machine” (1999) has been translated into 15 other languages; more recent books include “Conversations on Consciousness” (2005), “Zen and the Art of Consciousness” (2011), and a textbook “Consciousness: An Introduction” (2 ed., 2010).
Speaker: Carl Miller & Jamie Bartlett
Title: Truth and the Net
Speaker: David Allen Green
Title: Two Types of Evidence – Scientific vs. Legal Proof
Speaker: Alasdair Hopwood
Title: (False) Memories are Made of This: The current preoccupations of The WITH Collective
A FALSE MEMORY is a distorted or entirely invented recollection of an experience.
The artist and creator of The WITH Collective, Alasdair Hopwood will give a potted history of the critically acclaimed art project and will talk about his current research into False Memory as Artist-in-Residence at the APRU under the guidance of Professor Chris French. Hopwood will outline his ambitions for the residency and highlight areas of particular interest, presenting aspects of the rich and highly visual history of false memory experiments. He will also attempt to rationalise the role of the artist within a scientific setting and touch on the possibilities and limitations of cross-disciplinary collaboration.
“It is possible that much of what we take to be our personal autobiographical history is based upon false, or at least distorted, memories” Professor Christopher C. French, Journal of Consciousness Studies 10, No. 6-7, 2003, p.170.
Since 2002, The WITH Collective (WITH) have received critical praise in the UK and beyond, largely through the creation of a range of concepts that are for sale at their website withyou.co.uk. Examples include: Knowthing where a commissioner can have their ‘me-time’ delegated to a member of the collective, Traumaformat where WITH will experience your worst fears for you, as you and Mymory where you can have a memory recovered (or lost) on your behalf. These darkly comic concepts or ‘Solutions’ are the primary manifestation of the artwork; the theme that links all of the ideas together is that a client can have an experience either invented or lived out on their behalf by a member of the collective. WITH have exhibited internationally, creating projects and commissions for a variety of galleries including Tate Britain, The Hayward Gallery, The V&A, The ICA, K3 Zurich and the British Council, New Delhi. The WITH Collective are represented by Rokeby.
WITH Website: http://www.withyou.co.uk/
Review of last solo show at Chapter: http://www.withyou.co.uk/jjessay.html
Speaker: Dr Jason J. Braithwaite
Title: Neurocognitive Correlates of the Out-of-Body Experience in the Non-Clinical Population
Speaker: Dr Krissy Wilson
Title: Beyond Belief Down Under
Allegedly Australia is the most sceptical nation on earth. However, after four years investigating a range of beliefs down under, Dr Krissy Wilson has an alternative view. Join Krissy as she explores the weird and not so wonderful amongst our Antipodean cousins, presents a review of recent research projects and makes some provocative conclusions about the nature of doubt and belief.
Dr Krissy Wilson is a lecturer and psychologist. She has had rather an eclectic career starting out as a professional actress. She then joined British Airways and worked as cabin crew for six years. Whilst working for BA, she studied for a BSc in Psychology and went on to complete a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London, with Prof Chris French. In 2007, she emigrated to Australia taking up a position at the University of Tasmania. After two years she was let out on good behaviour and is now lecturer and Head of S.O.A.P (Science of Anomalistic Phenomena) at Charles Sturt University, New South Wales. During her time in Australia she has published in a variety of journals and magazines, appeared on TV and national and state radio and recently performed at The Amazing Meeting (TAM 2010) in Sydney. She has recently been accused of being the evil twin of the infamous Elbologist, Dr Sue Ryersis, a claim that Dr Wilson flatly denies. Her main research topics are the creation of false memories, and the psychology of religious and paranormal beliefs and experiences. Since living in Australia she became a member of the Australian Skeptics Association, and has tried her hand at stand-up comedy, wildlife rescue and if you need your bathroom tiling then Krissy’s your girl!
Speaker: Andy Lewis
Title: The Persistence of Delusion: Why do Some Alternative Medicines Thrive and Others Die?
The late eighteenth century was a very creative time for inventing new forms of quackery and some people became wealthy on the back of their creations. Of these creations, it is perhaps only homeopathy that has survived virtually unchanged into the 21st century. The majority of alternative medicines available today have been invented and developed within living memory, despite claims of their origins in antiquity.
What makes an alternative medicine successful? Why should homeopathy survive when the very popular Tractors of Perkins have long since been forgotten? Could you have predicted this in 1800? Today, we have a new industry of quack devices protecting us from mobile phones. Should you invest in such enterprises?
In this talk, Andy will look at the factors that allow patent medicines to thrive, and why consumers and practitioners latch onto them. Importantly, we shall explore the implications of these views for regulation and protecting the public from delusional or fraudulent claims.
Andy Lewis developed the Quackometer website that explores the pseudoscientific claims of alternative medicine websites and their impact on society.
Speaker: Prof Erlendur Haraldsson
Title: Kant as a psychical researcher: Swedenborgs and Indridason´s descriptions of remote fires in Stockholm and Copenhagen
The philosopher Immanual Kant was perplexed by stories about the paranormal feats of the Swedish scientist/mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. He asked a trusted English merchant-friend to interview witnesses. When Swedenborg was visiting Gothenburg in 1759 he described at a banquet a fire that raged near his home in Stockholm 247 miles away. The correctness of his descriptions were verified when news arrived in Gothenburg a few days later. The findings given to him by his investigator seem to have become an emotional issue for Kant for he expressed opposite views about it, a positive one in private and in public rejecting, ridiculing views.
Prof Haraldsson will review this famous case and a similar case from 1905, much better documented, that took place between Reykjavik and Copenhagen before radio or telephone communication existed between the two cities. Documents in Danish archives reveal fascinating details which will be displayed in a powerpoint presentation. There follows a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the cases and their possible explanations.
Erlendur Haraldsson is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg in Germany and did further studies at the University of Virginia. He has published over two hundred papers, mostly on anomalistic experiences, national surveys, field studies and experiments, and also on psychological testing and interrogative suggestibility. He is the author of five books, two of which have appeared in many languages (“At the hour of death” and “Miracles are my visiting cards”). For further details, see his homepage: http://www.hi.is/~erlendur/
Speaker: Dr Miguel Farias
Title: Faith in Science? The Psychological Functions of Believing in Science
Speaker: Massimo Polidoro
Title: Magic or Miracle? Putting Psychic Powers to the Test
Are there really people who can predict the future, find lost persons or hidden treasures, guess the content of sealed boxes or move objects without touching them? Many are genuinely convinced that they have these powers, but don't really know how to test them properly. Others have different motives for their claims… Drawing on the extensive files of his own research and that of CICAP, the Italian skeptics committee, Massimo Polidoro will examine some of the most bizarre claims made during the past 20 years and the original experiments devised to test them.
Massimo Polidoro, a journalist and writer, is cofounder and head of the Italian skeptics group CICAP. He began his career as an apprentice of James Randi and is now the author of over thirty books. A Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Fellow and columnist for the “Skeptical Inquirer”, his website is http://www.massimopolidoro.com.
Speaker: Prof. Richard Wiseman
Title: Something Interesting...
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